Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bears beat Checkers in defensive struggle

Two of the highest scoring teams in the AHL this season took the ice at Giant Center this afternoon.  Coming in to the game both teams were averaging about 3.5 goals per game.

1 goal was

Sheldon Souray picked up his 3rd goal of the season midway through the 3rd period and Braden Holtby made 24 saves as the Bears picked up win number 29 on the season.

It was not a well played game however.  Both teams turned the puck over on almost every rush and it wasn't all due to excellent defense, although some of it was.

Referee David Banfield didn't help the cause as he called 20 different penalties and awarded Charlotte with 11 separate power plays.

I am convinced that Banfield just wasn't watching the action.  Many of the calls he made were from actions behind the play and multiple times he missed what I am quite certain constitute penalties in hockey.

But in the end the Bears penalty kill was up to the task as they killed off an amazing 11 power plays which included a full 2:00 5 on 3 and a stretch in the 2nd period where Hershey was penalty killing for 6 minutes out of about 6:30.

An impressive night for the penalty kill.

Not so much for the offense who definitely appeared to be feeling it after the late night of travel and early game time.  And it wasn't just the Bears, Charlotte had plenty of trouble as well.

In the end a 4 on 3 power play proved to be the difference for the Bears.  Those are tough power plays to kill off because teams don't practice them often.  You practice 5 on 4 and you practice 5 on 3 but 4 on doesn't happen much so it surely doesn't get a ton of work.  And you could see that from Charlotte.  When they were down 5 on 4 they were super aggressive but when they went 4 on 3 they seemed to play it more like a 5 on 3 and stayed back.

There is so much open ice in that situation that it was just a matter of time.

Big win for the Bears...for many reasons, some of which weren't known at the time.
  • Charlotte is now a full 4 points behind Hershey....
  • Norfolk lost and is now a full 3 points behind Hershey....
  • and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lost so the Bears are just 11 points behind the Baby Pens.
11 points back with 5 head to head matchups to go....anything is possible.


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